Friday, May 19, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: 2x08-2x10

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back moving forward with Battlestar Galactica. I just finished the first chunk of the second season and, while it took a little bit, I'm right back on board with the show, and excited to see where they go from here.

'Final Cut' and 'Flight of the Phoenix' both fall prey to a bit of excess sap. They're not bad episodes, and the twist at the end of 'Final Cut' makes things more interesting, but ultimately they're a bit too much in the celebrate our characters mode. The most interesting stuff is Helo's struggle to reintegrate himself into the flight team, his fight with the chief is a great scene, but on the whole, each episode smooths over the tensions for a happy ending.

At the time I watched these two episodes, I was feeling a bit down on the show, like most of the tension had been defused and there was a bit of a loss of direction. However, in light of 'Pegasus,' it's pretty clear that those episodes were explicitly designed to focus on the ways that the crew has formed themselves into a fully functioning unit. They've solved most of their issues, and despite some lingering unease, they're generally moving forward.

So, 'Pegasus' engages with this, and brings in an outside force to challenge the status quo that our heroes have set up. It comes at just the right time, almost all the original characters have been made likable, so we need some sort of outside force to challenge them. Kane is a lot like Adama was back in the early days, before he got softened and found a way to compromise with the president. The basic problem of every TV show is that your characters inevitably become more likable as time goes on, and their more extreme traits get smoothed down. Witness the path of Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks for an example of how this can go bad, or Spike on Buffy to see how it can work to the show's advantage.

Kane's presence makes the military stuff more interesting than it's been for a long time, the final moments when Adama sends his fleet out to attack her are fantastic. This also leaves us with a lot of potential drama in the second chunk of the season.

However, what made this episode great was the stuff involving the cylons. The scene where Sharon is nearly raped was really visceral and made you hate the guy 'interrogating' her. When Tyrol rams his head into that nail, it's very satisfying. Sharon's one of my favorite characters on the show, and it's tough to watch her go through such an awful experience. The way the scene was staged also makes us totally sympathetic for Helo and the Chief, justifying Adama's decision to attack the Pegasus at the end of the episode.

In the story with Baltar and the prisoner Six we see what could happen to Sharon if she's left at the mercies of the Pegasus crew. They seem to have repeatedly raped her, and the locker room talk indicates that they find it totally acceptable to treat her in that way, ignoring the fact that she's a conscious, emotional person. It definitely calls back racial abuse through history, particularly plantation life, where masters felt it was perfectly alright to rape black slaves.

The episode exposes the way that the Galactica crew's idea of the cylons has evolved. After the business in 'Flight of the Phoenix,' they see Sharon as a real asset, and they know that even though they may be enemies, the Cylons are still sentient beings. The way the Pegasus crew treats their prisoner is abhorrent, and I'm guessing this will become a big issue in the second chunk of the season.

There's a lot of potential in having Baltar rehibilitate Six. I think they recognized the limitations of having him constantly interacting with her hallucination, and this will give them the potential to rekindle the relationship they had on Caprica. His soliloquiy about their relationship was beautiful. I think Batlar and Six have fantastic chemistry, but he hasn't had much to do this season, and getting him a prominent plot next time is a good idea.

So, I'm really psyched to see where things go from here. I hope they keep the focus on cylons, rather than on random problems on the bridge. The real philosophical meat of the series is with the cylons, so I hope to see more of Sharon on the Galactica, and more of the cylons in their own world.

Related Posts
Battlestar Galactica (2x04-2x07) (3/26/2006)
Battlestar Galactica (2x01-2x03) (3/24/2006)
Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries (3/5/2006)

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